Archive for June, 2006

ADOPTION REFORM

June 27, 2006

As promised, this posting is about adoption reform. I have read many articles, blogs, and books. One research article that I found at the University of Texas web site was done by Dr. Ruth McRoy of the School of Social Work and Dr. Harold Grotevant of the University of Minnesota. Dr. McRoy studied the birthmothers and Dr. Grotevant studied adopted children and adoptive parents. According to the article “New Adoption study shows direct contact between adoptive families and birthmothers results in greater birthmother satisfaction” showed that birthmothers in direct contact with adoptive families have greater satisfaction with openness, lower levels of grief about the placement and more satisfaction with their role in the relationship of their childrern. This part of the study was completed in 2002. Dr. McRoy focuses on research that helps children especially those in foster care.

I have heard stories of birthmothers that had open adoptions had them closed for whatever reasons. One thing that is a common thought is that open communication between the adoptive families and the birthparents should be enforced by a contract. There is only one state that honors that type of contract.

Most of what I have read and heard is that homestudies, criminal background checks, and other such checks need to be more stringent and accurate. Too many children adopted have been lived through abuse of all kinds. A case in point is the Masha story where the child was adopted by a pedophile. He photographed her in various sexual positions and posted them on the internet. I have also read many stories where the child is physically abused and then died as a result of their injuires.

I read another article recently. I find it interesting. It is called the “Current Adoption Policy and Practice – a comparison between North America and Australia.” Adoption Agencies and private adoptions are illegal in all states of Australia. In the United States, adoption has become a commercialized business. In other words, there is a financial intiative for agencies to perform adoption. It is very distasteful to have money and children to change hands in one transaction. Yet this happens almost daily in the United States. Again I mention an experience that a birthmother friend of mine had inside of a medical appointment. Some woman asked why there was not any more white babies to be adopted here in the United States. This woman also mentioned that the women who kept their babies were selfish for doing so. If this woman had realized who she was talking to, I hope that she would have realized that she had hoof in mouth disease. This type of “entitlement” is very prevalent in the United States. Adoption in the United States is no longer based on the needs of the child but on the neediness of the adults. Adoptions have greatly decreased in Australia.

I know of two countries that encourage expectant mothers to raise their own children. Germany allows mothers to stay at home with their children for two years after giving birth to their babies. They pay them 800 marks a month to do so. They also have socialized medicine. They may pay hire taxes but everyone has health care. This keeps health care costs down. I read an article from Ethica – A Voice for Ethical Adoption. They mention that there is eight countries that have opened the original birth certificates to adoptees: Norway, Poland, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Netherlands, United Kingdom, and Brazil. Australia also has open records.

I read many other things is this article that have been vocalized amongst the birthparents that I have spoken to. Expectant fathers are given adequate time to respond, file paperwork for them to keep the child, and establish paternity. If there is not an agreement with the expectant parents, then it is decided by a family court judge. Consent to adoption to adoption doesn’t occur until 14 days after the birth. Potential adopters are not allowed to pick the child that they are to adopt. They are not allowed in the hospital room while the expectant mother is giving birth. There is never any meetings until after the day 25 and the government selects the parents for the child. Not the other way around. The system that we have in place here in the United States is potentially exploitative and disempowering to the expectant mothers. Only after the twenty fifth day are the adopters and the mother allowed to meet and that is if only the mother approves it. The birth certificate states the original parents names on it but can be amended to add the adopters names to it along side of the first parents names. Everyone in the triad in Australia has access to the birth certificate. Australia does everything it can to promote the natural bond between mother and child. Poverty and abuse in families is not solved by removing children and arranging them to be adopted. Its a shame that the United States views poverty as a crime and therefore children must be taken away from the parents as a result. There are several states that are abusing this very thing. I believe that Tennessee is having its state leggies look into these such abuses. We need reform in adoption here in the United States.

Most would agree that opening our birth certificates to us is one step. Removing the money and commercialism from adoption is another. The government needs to step in and closed down adoption agencies. Intense counseling for all parties involved in the triad is needed. It also needs to be done by those who are outside the traid. Independent of adoption. There needs to be extensive and intensive background checks, criminal, and psychological checks. Homestudies need to be done before and after. I have heard people say that adoption of children here in the United States is too hard. Well it should be. Everything should be checked out. Our birthparents thought they were giving us up to a better life. For too many it was not the case. Too many times it is a crapshoot as one friend of mine said. They didn’t want their pain and grief to be in vain.

ADOPTION AND ITS "ENTITLEMENT"

June 25, 2006

I read an email the last couple of days that shocks me. I could not even begin to respond to it. A friend went to a doctor’s appointment. She never even discussed her connection to adoption. She listens to a woman discuss why there aren’t more white babies in America that are adoptable. This woman also basically said that the young women today are being “selfish” for keeping their children.

How more crappy can you get than that? If this woman had known that she was saying this in front of a birthmother, would she have changed her thoughts and her hoof in mouth disease? People in this country need to realize that adoption hurts. When we take a child from its mother, does no one realize that it hurts the mother? A while back one of my first email adoption buddies thought her mother gave her up because she is an inconvenience. I wish she could read all that I have read. I wish that she could talk to all the birthmothers out there. She and I may have been an accident at the time but we were loved. That our birthmothers’ hearts were shattered and broken beyond repair. My own birthmother is still so filled with guilt and shame that she can’t face me. I honestly believe she hears the words of hurt, shame, guilt, and pain whenever she thinks of me. I hate that she has to face that all over again and again. I would never want her to face her pain like that over and over. I do want her to heal. I also want to heal. I just hope in time we can come together and heal the pain that we both feel.

Adoption is supposed to be about the child. Too many people feel that they need a child to complete themselves. Our society puts that kind of pressure on women. I have an aunt that doesn’t want children. God the pressure that she must have faced over the years. She came from a large family. In my story, my mother was not the sterile one. It was my father. I lucked out with my mother. Yes, she supports my search. She knows that it is not any disrespect to her. Yes she changed my diapers, fed me, clothed me, and helped me figure out my life. She also knows that this is one battle that I must face on my own. She doesn’t feel entitled to me but I am her daughter just the same as I am my birthmother’s daughter. Yes she is grateful for the opportunity that was presented. She as well as the rest of my family will tell you that I am a blessing in their lives. Yet we have those in our society that are on opposite sides of the adoption fence. Some feel that adoption should be eliminated all together. Some also feel that some kind of reform needs to occur within adoption. I think that they are right. The money needs to be taken out of adoption. It must stop being a commercial business. We are talking about human lives. On the other side of the fence we have adoptive families and adopters. Adoptive families understand what adoption does to families especially the birthmothers and adoptees. Adopters are the ones that feel that the adoptees belong to them. That adoptees should not have the right to search and find their other families.
Many uninformed people feel that adoptees should be happy with what they have got. That adoptees need to feel grateful. That birthmothers should just fork over their children.

Change must occur. The women from Ann Fessler’s book are finally being heard. Adoptees are finally being heard. Adoptive families are finally being heard. Those that disagree need to hear the stories and listen with a compassionate heart. Adoption as it stands in our country hurts everyone involved in the triad. Its time to change it.

AN ARGUMENT DISSOLVED AND REFUTED

June 23, 2006

Everyone knows how I feel about these new laws coming to light with abortion. One of the things that I am beginning to realize is that there is only two ways that they are going to prove a doctor is performing an abortion or a woman is getting an abortion. First they are going to go through a female’s medical record. Granted its a privacy issue. There are several states waiting for Roe vs. Wade to be overturned. A woman will no longer have the promise of privacy or confidentiality through her medical records. The courts, law enforcement, and news media will all have access to any woman’s medical record. The other option will be to have law enforcement in the medical offices of doctors. They will be watching every pap smear and other medical services a doctor may perform on a woman. I am very uncomfortable with this. I am also outraged by all of this. Yet here we have murders, robberies, and other problems that need to be address first. Here they are concentrating on women’s health and pregnancy issues.

Now another way to look at this. They no longer have a excuse to keep our records closed to us. Of course they will come up with another argument against us. According to an article with Bastard Nation, birthparents have no reasonable expectation of anonymity. The constitution does not extend the right to privacy to include withholding birth information from the very person to who it primarily pertains — the adoptee.

Both groups of opposition, the pro-life and the pro-choice, want records sealed because women who have had abortions are afforded privacy, they argue that women who have given children up for adoption should be given the same option. Here are some statistics that I find interesting came from a message that Faux Claude left on a comment section of a reunion story. Oregon’s five year report on its open record law stated that less than 1% of birthparents desired no contact. New Hampshire also has the same rate. There are a few states that are considering doing away with the contact veto portion of their laws. States that allowed access to original birth certificates have lower abortion rates. Of course most people who want information on adoption usually look to the National Council For Adoption for the facts. I know from looking at their Adoption Factbook, is filled with lies, whether intentional or not. They state that its rare that adoptees search. I know from looking at their information about my birth state of Indiana that it is false. Adoptees not searching is not true because look at all the registries out there. Adoption.com has hundreds of thousands of entries. There is ISRR which also has a good million of entries in their database. There hundreds of other groups that help adoptees search. Many that are specific to states. Birthmothers/fathers are also searching. They wait until their child reaches 18 or 21.

POINTS TO PONDER

June 19, 2006

I was doing my favorite thing today. I read articles sent to me by friends and various groups that I am in. Since Louisiana has placed a ban on abortions dependent upon the overturn of Roe VS. Wade, I have been reading many articles since then. I was told about an Ohio bill that is absolutely horrifying. It outlaws all abortion to include cases of rape, incest and the health of the mother. It also criminalizes anyone who assists an Ohio woman trying to get an abortion in another state. This includes airlines, cab drivers, bus companies, husbands, and family members. It fortunately didn’t pass. It is my understanding that another bill very similiar is on the way. The article below was sent to me via one of my groups. I will get to it momentarily. I don’t understand this battle over a woman’s womb. Everyone assumes that women have an antagonistic view about their bodies and giving birth. There is no middle ground. It is also assumed that women want to have sex all the time. Gee Whiz I wish I had the time and the energy. I have a full time job, umpteen pets, two kids, and a husband to think about. I don’t know about other women but I just don’t have time to have all this sex every living minute of the day. Even the single women in my life don’t have time for that much sex.

What also alarms me the most is that women’s medical records will be accessed to find out if they have had an abortion. Any female from the age of newborn to 99 years of age will have their medical records analyzed. I thought we owned our medical records. I know that this will inhibit women from getting adequate health care. Why go to the doctor when the courts and law enforcement will be reading everything that a woman has done for her entire life? There will also be a good chance that all these medical records will also be made public. I guess us women need to be humiliated and put in our place. Yea right.

I believe in choice. I believe in offering all options. One option that has failed to make it to the surface of this battle is allowing a woman to keep and raise her own child. In fact, many a birthmother makes this very same comment. Another comment that is also made. No one ever mentions providing adequate medical and sexual education. No one ever mentions providing adequate birth control. In the book, The Girls That Went Away, none of the women in this book had good information or good access to birth control. The Right Wingers would like to see access to birth control removed completely. They are pushing to allow pharmacists to be conscientious objectors in providing birth control, morning after medication, and abortion medication. I watched a news show here recently that many hospitals and pharmacies where a young woman was raped. They did not provide any of these to this woman. Her mother was irate about it. Because these facilities didn’t believe in abortion or inhibiting a pregnancy, they would force a young woman to have a child that she didn’t give her consent on having. The choice was taken from her by the fact that she was raped. They are basically saying that it is okay for aman to rape a woman and make her pay the price. That sets me on fire.

I recently read a book by Margaret Atwood. Its called “The Handmaid’s Tale. It is fiction but it was a story that could be all too real. The government takes out love and intimacy out of relationship. Sex becomes government act that only certain people are allowed to do. Women are either wives, cooks, servants or birthers ( sorry no disrespect toward the birthmothers in my blog ring or among my email friends). The birthers get three chances to get pregnant. If they don’t they are eliminated. Everyone in the story are held captive. I see this book as being a strong possibility. I see our government beginning to regulate our sexual health.

Now to this story. I do think that this is going in the right direction. One thing that I and many others have a problem with. Not once is there any mention of allowing a woman to raise her own child. Of course that means the occasionally allowing a woman to go on Medicaid, WIC, and foodstamps. What I don’t understand is that everyone complains about women having a ton of children and being on welfare. Yet no one complains about the companies that get corporate welfare. Yet no on complains about the millions to billions of dollars given to companies such as McDonalds. There are many others just like them.
No one is willing to provide a way to help these women get an education or get a job opportunity that help her actually provide for her family. Something that actually allows her to live her life not just live hand to mouth. This article is from the Indianapolis Star. Like I said, its good but we need more

An abortion clinic will share space with an adoption agency at a new location, a first for Indianapolis and a highly unusual collaboration anywhere in the United States.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana closed its Eastside clinic near 21st Street and Ritter Avenue on Saturday, relocating to 86th Street and Georgetown Road on the Northwestside in a building previously used for unrelated medical purposes.

Beginning in July, a counselor from Independent Adoption Centers, which arranges open adoptions and has operated in Indiana for about 11 years, will be at the clinic two or three days a week, probably on days when abortions are not being performed.

Executives from the agencies said the arrangement benefits both and is expected to be a good fit.
“We’re about supporting whatever choice a woman wants to make, and adoption is one of those choices,” said Liz Carroll, Planned Parenthood’s vice president for patient services.

The concept has been percolating for several years, but Carroll made it a priority when she joined Planned Parenthood about a year ago, said President and Chief Executive Officer Betty Cockrum.

“We’re making certain that every woman knows her entire spectrum of choices,” Cockrum said.
Internally, there was no resistance to the move, she said. “It’s in that category of: Sometimes you just know it’s the right thing to do.”
Kathy Wilkerson, Midwest branch director of Independent Adoption Centers, said the organization also has no reservations about the arrangement. It does not take a political position on abortion, she said.
“We’re actually very excited about it,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity for all involved.”

Planned Parenthood in Chicago has collaborated with an Evanston, Ill.-based adoption agency for about six years, and another Planned Parenthood affiliate in Virginia has a similar relationship.

An independent abortion clinic in St. Louis briefly operated its own adoption agency in the early 1990s, and a former director of an Indiana Planned Parenthood had her own agency and arranged a handful of adoptions in the 1990s.

Those were the only such collaborations Cockrum and Carroll are aware of, and Wilkerson said her agency, which also has offices in California and North Carolina, has no other experience with an on-site relationship.
Abortion providers in Indiana are required to inform women that adoption is an option, and Independent Adoption Centers has been among the agencies included in Planned Parenthood referrals.

Wilkerson and Planned Parenthood officials said they have no idea how many women might consider or choose adoption under the new arrangement.

At least one Indiana opponent of abortion rights said Saturday that he was dubious about Planned Parenthood’s motives.

Eric Miller, founder of Advance America and long a conservative voice in Indiana, questioned “whether or not it is a legitimate effort or whether we’re seeing a smokescreen to make them seem to be something that they’re not.”
Cockrum said the organization wanted to leave the 21st and Ritter neighborhood, where an anti-abortion Crisis Pregnancy Center operated in the same small retail center, which also has a liquor store.

The new site, a 7,000-square-foot building, was bought by Planned Parenthood and renovated with private funds, whereas it had rented the old facility. The new building, on 1.6 acres, is near I-465.

LOST MINDS

June 18, 2006

I don’t mean to change the subject. It looks like I need to say something about this again. They don’t want our secrets revealed but they sure as heck want our mother’s records revealed. All I can say again. HAVE WE LOST OUR FREAKING MINDS????? WHEN WILL THEY GET OUT OF OUR PANTIES!!!!!! WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT FOR PEOPLE TO IMPOSE THEIR WILL ON ALL WOMEN!!!!!! WHAT REALLY GETS ME IS THAT A DEMOCRAT SIGNED THIS BILL. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN THEY ARE AFTER US WITH A VENGENCE. ITS NOT ENOUGH THAT THEY ATTACK GAY RIGHTS. ITS NOT ENOUGH THAT THEY HAVE TO TACKLE FLAG BURNING STUFF. DON’T THEY HAVE ENOUGH TO WORRY ABOUT!!! THEY HAVE TWO WARS GOING ON. THEY SAY THAT INFLATION IS ON THE WAY DOWN. YEA RIGHT HOW MANY OF YOU CAN AFFORD TO GO TO WORK TO PAY FOR THE GAS PRICES??? I READ THIS ARTICLE TODAY. LOUISIANA HAS TO REBUILD NEW ORLEANS AND THEY ARE WORRIED ABOUT WAYWARD WOMEN HAVING ABORTIONS.

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) – Louisiana Democratic Gov. Kathleen Blanco signed into law a ban on most abortions, which would be triggered if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns its 1973 ruling legalizing the procedure, a spokesman said on Saturday.

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The ban would apply to all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest, except when the mother’s life is threatened. It is similar to a South Dakota law that has become the latest focus of the abortion battle.

The South Dakota law was enacted partly to invite a court challenge in the hope a more conservative Supreme Court would overturn its Roe v. Wade decision that established a woman’s right to abortion.

The Louisiana ban would take effect if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Medicaid, which provides health benefits for the poor and disabled, requires funding for abortions in cases of rape or incest. Louisiana would allow those exceptions so long as it was required for Medicaid funding.

Seven states have such abortion trigger laws, and Louisiana already had a trigger law, although abortion legislation has been blocked by courts. The new law would mean the ban would happen quicker in the case of a new Supreme Court decision.

Blanco cited “overwhelming” support for the bill in the state Legislature.

“The central provision of the bill supports and reflects my personal beliefs,” she said in a statement, adding she had hoped for legislation with exceptions for rape and incest.

Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said lawmakers were focused on the wrong thing, especially as the state rebuilds from Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans last August.

“It is hard to believe that by passing this ban they are addressing what is most on the minds of most of the citizens of Louisiana,” she told Reuters.

Most U.S. states have some limits on abortion linked to gestation of the fetus and often based on viability, essentially the ability to live outside the womb.

THOUGHTS FROM THE GIRLS WHO WENT AWAY

June 18, 2006

I can’t reiterate how informing this book was. I learned so much from it. Most of these women were girls from affluent families. Most of the women were from families who attained middle class status. Their families did not want to lose this status.

Some more common themes:

1. Betrayal at the hands of their families. Most of the families did not acknowledge the baby after birth. They shamed their daughter for getting pregnant. None of the birthfathers were held accountable for their part in the pregnancy. Many of these girls also faced physical and emotional abuse by their families.

2. Many of these women also feel that they betrayed their children that were relinquished to adoption. They felt that they should have fought harder to keep their kids. These women faced low self esteem. They made choices that led them to be further abused by their future spouses.

3. None of these women ever had any form of sex education. The one thing that they all wished that they had was some form of education. How a woman’s body functions.

4. Many women felt fear at being found. Many including my own birthmother have a fear at being judged again at the hands of their families. Many also feel that they blew it when they gave the child up for adoption. Many also feel that they didn’t have the right to search. They also didn’t want to interfere with their child’s life.

My own questions after reading this book for my birthmother were these: 1. I have to wonder if her parents especially her father ever apologized to her. My thoughts on my own periods of abuse at the hands of my stepfather is that alcohol was the root of it. He did later apologize in his own way. It took his death for me to completely forgive him. He did not seem to get that it did damage me. Many of the birthmothers wanted their children to know the medical history. Its funny I have my birthmother’s history but because of the pain that she has been dealt. I don’t have my birthfather’s medical history. I feel that she doesn’t need to expose herself to him because I would do all of that on my own. He is still living in the same town that her family was from.

I plan on rereading the book. I want to absorb the feelings, thoughts, fears, and ideas behind this book. I will probably be writing about this book for a while. The public really needs to read this book. None of the children given up for adoption were not loved. None of these children were ever discarded like trash that was inconvenient. They were all loved and wanted passionately by their mothers. Society and their families felt this way. Most definitely not the mothers in this book.

THE GIRLS THAT WENT AWAY

June 17, 2006

BY ANN FESSLER

I just got this book a few days ago. If you are a birthmother out of the closet, it is a must read. If you are a birthmother that has recently been contacted by your adopted child, its a must read. If you are an adoptee, you most definitely need to read this book. I am now just about done with it. It was a gripping book. The stories of the women and what they went through at the hands of the adoption industry and their parents put me on the edge of my seat. Most of them were coerced by family, image and the social workers. Most did not receive adequate counseling and health care. Yesterday as I sat in the tower at the state hospital that I work at, I realize that they are treated better than the women who had to go to these maternity homes of the past. If the patients were treated in the same fashion, they would have filed complaints against everyone with Client Rights and Department of Heath and Human Services. I admit that I am just stunned by the whole book. For me it is an inside look at my birthmother’s life at the time. I am looking at her secret through new eyes.

When I was in junior high, the daughter of a close family friend got pregnant. My mother and I were wondering what happened to her. We also wondered what happened to her child. Has that child made contact, yet? I wonder if she had to go through some of the horror stories that these women have gone through? What about my own birthmother? What did she go through? Did her father abuse her like one of the women in the stories? I read that one woman told her father and he hit her so hard that she flew across the kitchen. After reading this book, I am now looking at my own birthmother very differently. Oh my gosh, the hell that these women went through. One thing that I find is a reoccurant theme in this. Most of the birthmothers kept their secret until it either killed them or just about did. One woman wrote “Keeping things inside you kills you.” Most if not all were relieved when their children found them. Another common thread is that none of these women really wanted to give up their children. Even the young girls felt strong maternal instincts after their children were born. They had pressure from their parents, society, and the adoption industry. The adoption industry played on their insecurities and their fear just like they were playing on a fiddle. They played it to a perfect tune. Another common thought is that these women feel that adoptees deserve their original birth certificate.

Ann Fessler along with writing birthmother stories also gives facts about those times. She gives a feel of what it was like to be pregnant and unmarried during the fifties and sixties. It is the most incredible book that I have read in a long time. It kept me at the edge of my seat. It gave me a glimpse into my own history and my own birthmother. You feel the pain of every woman in the book. Its not the type of book that you can put down. Its not the type of book that you can walk away from.

LYNNE"S Story

June 16, 2006

I was reunited with my daughter almost 12 years ago. Many changes have happened in those years, some bad, but most good. My daughter did the search, which began in March of 1994. In reality, she was searching for me all her life. She contacted a searcher and he was able to get the needed information from the adoption agency (The Cradle in Chicago). She had already received her non-identifying information, but of course that was not going to find her mother. Once he told her he’d found out who I was, she then took a deep breath and called one of my sisters. She was instantly received. In fact, my sister’s first words were “We love you. Are you all right?” My sister was very protective of me and after a long conversation, she told my daughter (Christine), that she would call me and let me know. That was an earth shattering call to receive and I felt so many incredible emotions. Fear, joy, grief and finally, peace. It came to me that this was right and I was ready. I waited one day to collect myself, then called my first born child. We talked for hours and when I asked her if she wanted to meet me, her instant reply was, “I’ve wanted you all my life”. What she didn’t realize was that I live in San Diego, just a little over two hours from her in L.A. She drove down the next day and then our journey together began.

We were both filled with emotion and excitement. We spent the entire day together and when my husband came home, he could see that she wanted to be part of us. The next day the doorbell rang and it was a huge bouquet of red roses. It was her birthday and her card read “One rose for every year of life you gave to me”. She had vowed to not let another birthday go by without finding her mother. The hardest part of all this was telling my son who did not know he had a sister “out there”. I was told I could never know her and she was closed off to me for the rest of my life, so I’d never told him about the sister I believed he’d never be able to know. My son had married a few months before, so he and his lovely wife came over and I told him about Christine. He was shocked, but told me how much he loved me and he was immediately open to meet and get to know her. When she and her husband came down a few days later, we all met at my house and the first words out of my son’s mouth were “My long lost sister”, and he put his arms around her. It was so incredible for all of us. A week later we went back to Chicago so she could meet all her aunts, uncles and cousins. It was a remarkable event and I even invited her adoptive mother to come up from St.Louis and meet us all. Christine & I felt it was important for the two mothers to meet and understand one another’s role in her life. However, she did not want us to have a relationship and we only met the one time. That was fine with me because her amother tried to manipulate the reunion and interject herself inappropriately. I never regretted meeting her and I’ve never regretted not having a relationship with her. I realize that it’s different in every situation, but she truly had no place in the emerging relationship between my daughter and myself.

We had a long “honeymoon” period and then the pain and anger really began surfacing for my daughter. It came to a head in 1998 and we did not speak for an entire year. We both were into our respective therapies and I guess it was a good thing to have a break for awhile. Of course I say that in retrospect. At the time it was most painful. However, we both gained strength and understanding of ourselves and one another. When she became pregnant with her own daughter, she then realized how much she truly needed me in her life and we reconnected. It was tentative at first, but the former ease resurfaced and this new life coming into both of our lives was so healing. Since then, our relationship has deepened and it all is just so natural to both of us. Of course, my granddaughter (6 yrs. old), knows me as her grandmother, without any labels attached to our relationship.

My daughter and her adoptive mother never had a good relationship and it grew increasingly toxic to Christine. It all blew apart almost five years ago and they have not spoken since. It was not about me or our reunion, but no doubt that played a role in the final split. It makes me sad to think that her adoptive mother is missing out on my wonderful granddaughter, but it was her choice as much as Christine’s. I see such a sense of peace in my daughter, and to me, that is of utmost importance.

I welcomed my first child back into my life with open arms and an open heart. I have worked through the pain of her loss and the guilt I felt for giving her up for adoption. Of course in 1965, that was my only option. Like so many middle class girls from good families, I was shuttled off to a maternity home and then after delivery, had to sign away my rights to my baby. I try not to dwell on that time, but it does resurface at times. My daughter and I both live in the now and rejoice that we have so many tomorrows together. We cannot change what happened and we cannot let it deter us from our loving relationship.

I think that it was very important for HER to find ME. I have many birth mother friends who searched for their children and have reunions. All of them have difficulties in these long term reunions which I do not have with my daughter. I feel one of the reasons is because by deciding to search for and find me, my daughter took back control in her life and this was HER choice and HER decision. It was empowering for her. Also, through the rough times we had, we both wanted this relationship to survive and we both worked hard to make that happen.

Reunion is full of so many emotions for both mother and child. It’s not easy, but the rewards of healing and completeness make all the hard work so worthwhile. And so, our journey together continues, but the path is well lit with all the love an acceptance.

THE UNEXPECTED GRANDSON

June 16, 2006

This was sent to me via A_L_I_A email. I had to post it. It is such a beautiful story. It was also suggested to bring Kleenex tissues to this story. It shows that grandparents even miss the children lost to adoption. I dedicate this to my birthfamily wherever they may be.

He had been our secret for all these years

by Norma Simpson, Beaumont, Texas

When you’re my age life tends to settle down, without the surprises it once held. At 85, I had grown comfortable with my daily routine in a small lake community in southeast Texas called Toledo Bend. Getting the mail was often a highlight of my day. And that’s where I was one summer afternoon a couple years ago – standing at the mailbox – when I opened a red-white-and-blue express-mail envelope and got the shock of my life.

“My name is Tony,” the letter read. The writer went on to explain carefully, “I’m your grandson and I’d like to come to meet you.” I turned the envelope over and checked the postmark. All the way from the East Coast. A far piece to travel for a hoax, I thought. Because it just couldn’t be true. Could it?

I was thrown back in time, to 1955. My only child, Dorothy, single, in her mid 20s and living at home, had been crying for days. It just about killed me to see her brilliant blue eyes rimmed with red. Finally she said: “Mother, I’m pregnant.”

“Who is the father?” I managed to ask. Dorothy told me. Later I found ut he was married. She hadn’t known.

Dorothy was a bright girl, who graduated from college with a degree in journalism. She had a good job. Her father had died when she was barely out of her teens. We were as close as two people could be. We loved board games and had a closetful, passing many an evening intent on our strategies. We liked bird-watching, though Dorothy was better at recognizing the rare ones than I was. We laughed like old friends. We were more than mother and daughter; we were a team. And we decided we would raise the baby the way we did most things: together.

Being an unwed mother carried a terrible stigma in our small town.

Dorothy and I turned to the church for counseling. During many sessions with our pastor we discussed what the years had in store for my daughter. We learned of all the couples who were desperate to have a baby, but couldn’t. Was it right to deprive a child of having two parents? Had we given enough thought to adoption? Gradually it became clear to both of us what was best for the baby. Dorothy went to a maternity home in Cincinnati, where she stayed until her son was born. She cared for him for 10 days, then signed the adoption papers – final and irrevocable.

She returned to me a thin, broken young woman. We never spoke of the baby again. Because Dorothy never mentioned him, neither did I. (I would have done anything to spare her further pain.) Eventually she found her calling working as a school librarian, where, she said, “You have the children but don’t have to bother with discipline.” She went door-to-door electioneering and got herself on the school board so she could do everything in her power to make sure the local kids got the best education possible. I suspected she was trying to fill the void in her life, but of course not even every child in the world could have done that. When Dorothy died in my arms from cancer, I felt what she must have felt, that aching sense of loss.

What I didn’t know was that while Dorothy was alive she had spent years seeking information about her son. But the records had been sealed.

Now he’s trying to contact me! I thought as I walked slowly up the drive from the mailbox. I put the letter back in the envelope and stuck it in a drawer. Oh, Dorothy, I thought, if you only knew . . . I didn’t sleep well that night, wondering how it is that God works. Lord, your timing’s all wrong, I thought. How was I to tell if Tony really was who he claimed to be? After all these years, how would I explain him to my friends and family?

Two days later in the afternoon a neighbor dropped by for a cup of tea. I was grateful for the diversion. I was trying to keep my mind on our conversation when a forceful knock on the door nearly jolted me out of my seat. Not now! I thought. It can’t be him already! Heart pounding, I opened the door, more intent on the explanation I would give my neighbor than on the tall, trim, dark-haired man in the neat business suit standing there. “Hi,” he said softly. “I’m Tony.”

Her eyes, her brow . . . I caught myself. “Well, look who’s here,” I improvised as I motioned him in. “It’s Dorothy’s . . . friend Tony. He’s flown all the way from back east.” I smiled at my neighbor, searching her face for signs of suspicion.

“Any friend of Dorothy’s is a friend of mine,” she said, and politely excused herself so we could visit. “Have a nice time, you two.” As I let her out, I wondered if I wasn’t crazy. Now I was alone with a complete stranger, whether he was my grandson or not. Lord, please help me handle this.

“Won’t you sit down?” I asked. We small-talked for a while before the young man told me his story. When he and his wife decided to have children, he started to look for his birth mother, in part to determine any hereditary medical problems. “But I also wanted to know more about her.” With the passage of time and legislation, the records that had been closed to the mother were made available to the son. He had been stunned and saddened to learn Dorothy had died, but heartened to find out about me.

We got comfortable with each other, and then he asked me about Dorothy. No name was sweeter to my ears, no subject dearer to my heart. I began telling him abut her, though I did maintain a certain reserve. Finally, saying it was getting late, Tony left for his motel.

When I closed the door I asked myself, What am I doing? What good could possibly come of this?

Early the next morning Tony appeared at my door, juggling a pile of luggage. “I’m staying,” he announced. “Who says I want you to?” I shot back with a smile, not completely sure if I was kidding or not. After all, if he were an impostor, he had the perfect scheme to find out anything he wanted to know about me. But again I found myself saying and wondering how many people in the world have Dorothy’s brow and eyes.

He squeezed past me and stacked his luggage inside. Tony had a million questions, asking to see pictures of Dorothy at every age. He read her poems and essays, and letters she had written me. I had saved practically everything, of course. He seemed hungry to know every detail of Dorothy’s life. In spite of myself I warmed up to the young man in front of me. I went to bed feeling more comfortable with the situation. Lord, if this is your will . . .

The following day I awoke with a start. I grabbed my robe and hustled downstairs. I heard clanking as I approached the kitchen. Tony, wearing the gaudiest pair of gym shorts I had ever seen, was puttering around, making coffee as if he belonged there. “One thing I know abut you,” I said. “You’re color-blind!”

Tony laughed. So did I. We laughed like old friends, and he had me, for good. I introduced my grandson to friends, neighbors, relatives, everybody I knew. No one reacted with embarrassment or disapproval. Instead, the people I care about all delighted in my good fortune.

Early that fall Tony arranged for me to fly out to visit him and his wife, who was soon to give birth. We had a fine time. Not long after I returned home Tony called. “Hey, Great-grandma!” he said, struggling for the words through his emotions. “Say hello to Louisa.” I swallowed hard. A baby girl. Louisa, after Dorothy’s middle name. Two months later, when Tony flew to Texas with my great-grandbaby, I almost burst with pride at the sight of her.

My health began to deteriorate, and I realized I could no longer live on my own. Tony urged me to come back east with him, but my roots were in Texas. So he returned and set me up in a charming retirement hotel. I never could have managed the move, physically or financially, without him. He takes good care of me now, just as Dorothy would have done. My grandson has enriched my life beyond measure. But far more importantly, I had tried to close the door on the past and on the pain of losing a grandson and my beloved Dorothy when there came a letter and a knock at the door.

Did I say I was too old for surprises? Not on your life. It’s never too late to be surprised by the Lord’s blessings.

ANOTHER BIRTHMOTHER STORY

June 15, 2006

Another birthmother that I have met through the internet sent me this story. I have kept it as anonymous for her and her son. I hope that she likes what I have done with it. Just kept it at her story. The information in this story is invaluable. I have sought to understand my own birthmother through the very same channels that this mother has done. I have links to many of the same birthmother blogs and groups that she has used. If I had the chance to help my own birthmother to heal, I would lead her to these links. I would personally give her the phone numbers of birthmothers not only in her area but across the country. These women have been instrumental in my own healing process. Just as this woman has been for me. Thank you for giving me your story to publish on my blog.

My first born son and I have been reunited for about 5
years. I have the great privilege of getting a second
chance to know and love my first born son from “up
close”. To have him back in my life brings me the
greatest of joy.

Some time has passed since I was in the first elating
and confusing phases of reunion with my son and during
this five year period, I have worked on, and continue
to work on, some of the difficult issues that reunion
brings to the surface. Thankfully, I haven’t had to do
it alone.

Other mothers who have lost children to adoption have
been a great source of understanding and compassion. I
have “met” many on the inter net and had the bonus of
the opportunity to be among a group of reunited
mothers living in my city and throughout its burbs.
Also CUB (Concerned United Birth parents) has a
chapter locally and I attend their monthly meetings
when I am able. The adult adoptees I have “met” on the
inter net and at CUB have also helped me tremendously;
particularly in understanding some of the more common
adoption issues from the adult adoptee viewpoint.

My son was born in the mid ’70’s. His father and I
dated in high school and into college. A pregnancy
out of marriage in our very conservative mid west
community was still a scandalous, shameful thing. My
family’s unspoken motto is “Look good at all costs.”

I was to hide my pregnancy from the neighbors; not go
for dental appointments and to avoid all relatives.
Though my parents didn’t ever discuss the option my
being shipped off to a maternity home; I was leaving
town soon after I discovered I was pregnant to return
to the dorm for my sophomore year in college. Since I
was not yet “showing” in late August as I left town,
in hindsight, I was pretty much as good as sent to a
maternity home and far away from scandalous gossip.

I was able to finish winter quarter of that academic
year and returned to my parents house in late February
to await the birth of my first born son. My child’s
father and I attended Lamaze classes together. His
father was with me when my “water broke” and labor
with our son began. His father was present for my
entire labor and delivery. Though we were not
planning to marry, we did birth our child together.

I always wanted my child; I did not want to surrender
him to adoption; but I remember that I thought, and
was told, that if I really loved my baby, I would
surrender him. And course I loved my baby. I would
have given my life for my baby.

30 years of hindsight gives me the perspective that I
had my back against a very tight corner; no air to
breathe due to pressure and coercion from family and
the adoption agency. His father and I had absolutely
no legal counsel; an appalling fact; sadly the norm
for parents like us.

So, I surrendered my child to adoption. And continued
to do as I was expected. Got a summer job at the same
time I went back to the agency clinic for my post par
tum exam. And in the fall I returned to school.
Finished up my degrees; not one but two, as was
expected. Got married and had other children as was
expected. I kept my mouth shut as was expected; kept
the secret by not even telling my other children of
their brother’s birth. “Moved on” as was expected…I
think I even had myself convinced that I had “moved
on”.

I kept my son, his birth, all the events surrounding
the surrender, and his father in a separate part of my
being. I had to compartmentalize them in order to
function in my day to day life. However, I spent an
enormous amount of energy to keep my overwhelming
feelings at a subconscious level. It was like I was
keeping a gigantic pressure filled beach ball
submerged underwater for 24 years. This huge “beach
ball” was like a living organism that resided in my
gut and I expended a tremendous amount of emotional,
mental and spiritual energy into keeping it down below
the surface. I think I got so used to living with it
that I functioned eventually with very little
awareness of it being there.

The month my son turned 18, I contacted the adoption
agency. My son also contacted the agency about 4 or 5
years later. We are very fortunate in that then the
agency made the effort to contact each of us by
letter. The letters stated that as we had each made
agency contact, if we were interested in contact with
one another, we could begin through the agency.

So one summer afternoon, while standing in my kitchen,
I opened a hand addressed letter to me.
There was no return address at all on the envelope.
I had no idea that this was a letter from the agency
stating that my son had contacted the agency and that
I could contact him through them. At that moment, the
pressurized ball shot above the surface. The illusion
of my calm and controlled waters broke.

I did not respond to my son right away through the
agency. I didn’t say “no contact” but I didn’t say
yes, either. I just pretty much avoided giving any
response.

Thankfully, for me, my son was persistent and about a
year later, when he later told me that his life was a
bit more settled, he contacted the agency, again. I
can’t exclaim loudly enough, that I am so thankful for
my son’s persistence. Five years ago we exchanged our
first letters through the agency. About a year later
we had our first phone calls. And 4.5 years ago, I had
the greatest joy of seeing my son, again, for the
first time. We have been able to see another about 2
times a year. There is half of the U.S. between us
but we have cell phones, email, and airfares. And I
believe we have worked hard at building a foundation
of trust in our relationship.

When I stop to think that if not for my son’s
persistence I would probably not have this chance to
know him, I am horrified. I think that I would have
remained frozen in an unresponsive state had he not
again contacted the agency.

And I have done some soul searching as to why I didn’t
jump immediately on the chance to have contact with my
son when I read that first agency letter in my kitchen
that summer day 7 years ago. Reunion with my son and
the second chance to know him as an adult and to build
our relationship is one of the greatest joys of my
life! I can’t stand to think that I might have totally
lost that chance.

So why didn’t I jump on that chance immediately?
I think it was simply that the emotions rising to the
surface with the reality of a reunion were too many
and each too great for me to begin to deal with. I
didn’t know how to begin to address even one of my
feelings. All feelings seemed inextricably bound. I
simply avoided dealing with my loss, grief, shame,
anger and even greater than these; the joy of my son’s
existence. It was all too enormous. All these emotions
compressed inside that huge beach ball held in my gut
that took every ounce of energy to keep submerged.
I had no tools, or support to deal with it by myself.

Then, I got on line to research adoption/reunion and
began to find so many other mothers who were just like
me. Mothers who lost their children to adoption.
They were telling their stories. Each was the same as
mine. Different cast; same story line.

This was a huge relief. I was not alone. And then I
began to meet in person some other mothers of loss.

They were like me…housewives, mothers, teachers,
nurses, business leaders; backbone of the community
people. And they reached out to me to hear my story;
which I needed to tell; over and over.

They helped me to see that I needed to cut the chain
of secrecy and tell my other children of their
brother.
Living without telling them was making me physically
ill. My sons all now have the opportunity to build
their own relationships as they wish.

Early in reunion, I found over and over one particular
statistic that hit me really hard between the eyes.
There are 6,000,000 adoptees in the US. That means
there are 6,000,0000 mothers of adoption loss out
there. 6,000,000 million fathers. Makes me feel not
quite so alone, anymore. Glad to be not so alone, but
wish in this case I was a bit more lonely.